Lore Reporter Articles
Our lore reporters from the sixth onward will be posted here. Sorry for the inconvenience, we only do this because of space limitations.
Lore Reporter #15: Great Houses of Morrowind
By Brian S
In the province of Morrowind, as you likely know, there are several factions seeking gain in the politics, society, and economy of said province. These are the Great Houses, long standing traditions of the Dunmer people. Each bears their own traditions, beliefs, morals, and customs, and they all vie for control of the province by means of business, war and espionage. To a foreigner they may seem outlandish, but it is important to remember that, in their eyes, you are the outlander.
People are most familiar with the three great houses that bear holdings on the isle of Vvardenfell. These are House Hlaalu, Telvanni, and Redoran. But there are two others, Indoril and Dres, as well as the now defunct and controversial House Dwemer.
Hlaalu is the friendliest of all houses, known for their compassion in allowing outlanders to openly join the ranks of their house. This, coupled with their strong relationship with the Imperials, has garnered House Hlaalu a bad reputation amongst traditionalist Dunmer, who see them as weak and traitorous. This is not helped by the fact their strength lies not in magic or the blade, but in business and economics. Shrewd traders and businessmen are the members of House Hlaalu, and this has gained them a specific advantage over the other houses as the Imperials advance in Morrowind. As with every Great House, they bear a unique style of architecture, resembling closely that of the Temple’s: Simple stone houses, ostensibly akin to adobe, often surrounded by outer walls and having multiple levels. The holdings of Hlaalu lie mainly in the south of Vvardenfell, their capital held in Balmora, stretching south onto the mainland stopping at about the Deeshan plains.
Of all the Great Houses of Morrowind, House Redoran is seen as one of the most traditionalist. Much of their society and culture is based not around material rewards, but around honor and faith. They take their daily lives, and their involvement within the House, with great seriousness and gravity. They are seen as the great warrior house, and indeed are fabled soldiers and craft much weaponry. Along with this, they are the most pious of the Great Houses of Vvardenfell, being incessantly devout to the Tribunal Temple. Most at odds with Hlaalu (not surprising given their beliefs being nearly opposite), they are still arguing over land holdings in the Caldera region, last this reporter had heard. With their capital in the skar city of Ald’ruhn, their holdings consist mainly of western Morrowind: The Ashlands, The West Gash, and the thin sliver of land along the border with Skyrim.
Most mysterious of these factions is Great House Telvanni. They are eccentric wizards with wild social opinions and extravagant lifestyles. Of all the houses that this reporter has surveyed, Telvanni is by far the richest. Reclusive, they do not make much contact with the other houses and factions, only openly rivaled by the Mage’s Guild, who both compete for magical dominance. Telvanni society is all about power; getting it, retaining it, and seizing it. And they do an extremely well job of doing so mercilessly. They are open to any trade, the only house on Vvardenfell to deal in slaves (rather, since the proclamation of Helseth, to have dealt in slaves. This is not to say I would be surprised if the practice carries on clandestinely). Most intriguing about the Telvanni is their architecture, which follows the natural spirit of the Redoran to peculiar extremes. These wizards dwell in giant mushrooms, devoid of any stairs: they levitate between the different floors.
Above the Redoran in piety is Great House Indoril. Named for the Great hero Indoril Nerevar himself, they are effectively an arm of the Tribunal Temple. They hold up Temple authority to the utmost, even if it means defying the Imperial Law above them. Their warriors, the Ordinators, are among the most infamous in all Tamriel, and the best of them guard their capital city of Almalexia, which you may better know when referred to as Mournhold.
House Dres is the most unknown to the people, and even to this reporter. They occupy the southern region of mainland Morrowind, along the border with Black Marsh (Argonia), their capital being Tear, a port along the coast of the Padomaic Ocean. From said province they have been known to steal slaves from the lizard people. Unlike Telvanni, I am sure they still practice this today behind the backs of the law. They are highly traditional, their customs pre-dating that of the Tribunal, ostensibly: Vivec claims they still worship the Daedric princes despite strongly supporting the Temple.
It’s said that the Dwemer were once, indeed, a Great Dunmer House. Why this was or was not so is beyond me…perhaps, like the Deep Folk themselves, it has been lost forever.
Lore Reporter # 14: Goblins.
By Brian S
Goblins are among the most infamous and hated of vermin across all Tamriel. The short, perseverant creatures enjoy hatred and malice from all corners of the Empire. But with all enemies, strength in combating them lies in knowing of them in the first place. Be aware that while they are an annoyance, Goblins enjoy a fair share of usefulness throughout various Tamrielic, and non-Tamrielic, cultures. The Altmer in particular find them useful, using them in jobs they find themselves to noble to rightly perform, such as lowly farming and other less proper occupations. The Altmer are also known for using Goblins as buffers (and likely cannon-fodder) for their armies, and are known for training them into suitable soldiers. The Tsaesci of Akavir too use goblins for slave labor, capturing them from the islands surrounding their kingdom. They also use them for vampiric urges.
On Goblin intelligence, a reasonable amount of so can be surmised. Many goblins are able to build proper shelters, use human tools and weapons, and in some cases, even properly operate magicka and magickally enchanted devices. Within the known variations of Goblins, a particular hierarchy exists, suggesting a degree of leadership and relative nobility within the species. Language capabilities exist to an extent, as a Caldera pawnbroker claims his name to be derived from “Goblinish.”
Throughout Tamriel, various different variations of Goblins exist depending on geography, differing in hierarchy and appearance. I will herein divide these up into the Cyrodiilic Goblins and the Mournhold Goblins. It has been suggested that the Riekling creatures of Solstheim are too a variation of goblins, “Snow goblins,” as it were. While this cannot be confirmed adequately, it is my personal appearance that it is so. They bear the traditional makeshift attitude and short, stubby build as do mainland goblins, as well as the vehement dislike for human intrusion.
The Mournhold Goblins, albeit my giving such a name, are not in my opinion native to Morrowind. The extremely harsh climate allows only for specific animals, and ones which have adapted to the unforgiving landscape. Taking into accordance the isolation provided by the Velothi Mountains and Black Marsh as well as the Altmeri trainers who lead them, these Goblins are obviously not of Morrowind, and thus of Summerset.
The Mournhold Goblins, unlike the Cyrodiilic variety, bear their own self-made weapons and shields, formed of some crude, grayish material. Clad in but rags and ersatz armor, the grunts fight voraciously. Sometimes they may ride upon creatures known as Durzogs; reptilian beasts resembling a fiercer form of the Morrowind Guar.
Hierarchically, the Goblins herein are divided into simple Footsoldiers, Bruisers, Handlers, Officers, and Warchiefs. The Footsoldiers are the obvious grunts, poorly equipped, physically weak (relatively), and largely magickally deficient. They naturally provide the minutest threat. Take into good account their fire resistance, however. Bruisers and Handlers, as well as Officers, often will lead a group of smaller grunts, taking Durzogs along with them, sometimes mounting them. The Officers are the strongest of the three, physically and magickally. Most powerful of the Mournhold Goblins are the Warchiefs, of which there are reportedly only two known. They are extremely powerful, and beyond that, extremely intimidating, standing taller than two men at best. Their magicka as well as their might and resistance to normal weapons make them purely monstrous.
The Cyrodiilic Goblins are spread out across the province, albeit not in a simple, amalgamated fashion. Most of them are broken down into various tribes spread out within the various caves and abandoned mines and ruins which dot the province like holes in cheese. Some still are solitary, or form small non-tribal alliances with each other. The Cyrodiilic Goblins have a much more viable sense of culture, order, and even faint religion and faith. Their lairs are not haphazard, but laid out in such a fashion as to designate various places for various functions: eating, worship, etc. They even take roles beyond simple combat; some goblins herein take the role of cooks, still others as spiritual leaders or “shamans.”
Each tribe centers themselves around their Totem Staff, a magickal staff which possesses powerful spiritual significance to the tribe. Each tribe has their own totem staff, albeit omitting the Bitterfish tribe, which may be caused by their isolation in the forgotten ruins of Miscarcand. The tribes defend their totem to the death, and should it be stolen, they will follow for it no matter the distance. Should it be stolen by another tribe, they will subsequently go to war with that tribe to retrieve it. Why they treat their staffs as such is unknown in contemporary scholarship.
The various tribes and their locations are thus: The Bitterfish Tribe of Miscarcand, The Bloody Hand Tribe of Cracked Wood Cave, The Dust Eater Tribe of Barren Mine, The Rock Biter Tribe of Timberscar Hollow, The Sharp Tooth Tribe of Derelict Mine, The Skull Breaker Tribe of Wenderbek Cave, The Three Feather Tribe of Plundered Mine, and The White Skin Tribe of Goblins Jim’s Cave.
Of rank, the system is far more complex than that of the Mournhold Goblins. At the bottom of the tier are Goblins and Goblin Skirmishers, who are very physically weak and magickally impaired. They carry ersatz weapons taken from humans, and sometimes shields. Next up are the Berserkers. They are marked by their increased vehemence and higher quality of weapons, an obvious indicator of skill and placement within the tribe. The highest lever goblin warrior is the Warlord. They wear (relatively) fine armor and a helmet adorned with curled ram’s horns. They carry very high quality weapons, sometimes of the silver or elven style. Leading the tribes, not unlike the Mournhold Goblins, are the War Chiefs. They lack the fearsome size of their Mournhold brothers, however. At the very top are the Shamans, the powerful religious leaders of the goblin tribes. They carry with them the sacred Totem Staffs, and are strict mages. Peculiarly, all shamans are female, with sweeping hair and an unsophisticated dress. Shamans lead all the tribes but one, the White Skin. That tribe is led by a man named Goblin Jim, who has apparently assimilated into the tribe to the point of leadership.
Goblins have also been sighted on Stros M’Kai. There they were somewhat communicable. Not unlike all the other cases of goblins throughout Tamriel, the Stos M’Kai goblins make their homes in the caves and caverns. They are, however, led by an Ogre instead of another goblin, who is also known as The Goblin King. This suggests a relationship between Goblins and Ogres.
Goblins play a minute role in myth and legend throughout history. In Redguard history do they have an especially important role. They say that giant goblins infested Hammerfell when the Redguards were new to the land. These giant goblins appeared from another dimension and laid waste to the land, causing the native Dwarves to evacuate in terror. The Redguards arrive and are forced to combat. It is Divad, son of Frandar Hunding, uses five magical swords to cast a crippling spell upon the goblins, causing them to be the size and disposition that is found throughout Tamriel.
Some legend tells that the goblin are some of the original beast folk of Tamriel, having inhabited the continent when the Aldmer arrived from their ancient and lost homeland, and that they are thus the primogenitors of the Orcs. Herein there is much controversy and dispute, as various other legends, Velothi amongst them, state that the Orcs were once elves, the Orsimer, transformed along with Trinimac into the less than pretty beings they are today. Most people do not, however, leave for ambivalence between the myths, and that there can indeed be Goblinish Orcs and Orsimer, however.
On the future of Goblins, only time will tell their role in society and legend. With the Fourth Era in session, and the surprisingly vibrant culture of Goblins which is masked by fear and prejudice, they may find a role in contemporary Tamrielic society, as the oppressed Orcs once did.
Lore Reporter # 13: Azura Through the Ages
By Brian S
We are all familiar with Azura, who is without a doubt one of the most familiar yet one of the most enigmatic of the Princes of the Void. The mysterious maiden of the dusk and of the dawn is she, who begrimed the faces of the Chimer long ago. Yet despite this the way she has chosen to display herself for the denizens of the Mundus scuttling beneath her has been in constant motion, and this report shall thusly focus on her many faces.
Much to the lugubriousness of this reporter, accurate ancient representations of Azura are not available. But thanks to the peculiar technomagickal enhancements of modern times, we have “photos” leading back to the late-third era. The latest of these is around the time of the strange events in High Rock, those of the Eternal Champion. This image is what he is said to have seen. I must warn you of the highly scandalous pixilated nipples, for the Tamrielic Decency Act denies all people to look at nipples which happen to be larger than a pinhead. But do also note as you are avoiding those debaucheries, that this Azura bears white hair, and has an overall elderly look. She wears a blue half-dress, a gold collar, and holds a rose.
Our next instance of her appearance is that which seems to also center around a great event in Tamrielic history, that of the fall of Dagoth Ur at the hands of the alleged Nerevarine. This Azuran depiction, which is seen atop her shrine, holds no longer a rose, but the moon and star which are her symbols. Her face seems to reflect that she is somewhat disgruntled or angry, which may not be a surprise to those who understand this Prince’s choleric nature. Also note that this time, Azura seems to comply with the Tamrielic Decency Act (and perhaps this is why she appears so frustrated), being topless, but for the good of the children, bearing no discernable nipples.
Around the same time, when said Nerevarine left The Citadel of Dagoth Ur, and when he/she was present in the city of Mournhold, he/she was visited by Azura. I have found documentation of the “Mournhold Visit.” Here she is dressed fully, and appears as a Dark Elf, gray skin and red eyes. She wears a long, sleeveless blue dress. This form leads this reporter to think the Tamrielic government pressured her even more to conform to decency standards.
And again, during the Oblivion Crisis, she was seen as a statue at her shrine, in the north of the Cyrodiil Province. Due to the invaluable skills of the Champion of Cyrodiil, we have documentation of this. Here she is much again like she was found at the Morrowind shrine. Her appearance is essentially the same, but here her facial expression is more serene and calm. Perhaps she and the Tamrielic Decency Committee came to an agreement. Perhaps still she is giving them the “cold shoulder,” as her back is turned to the Imperial City. I say this is up to you, good reader, to fully judge.
Lore Reporter #12: The God Chart
By Brian S
After the Convention, here the fate of Mundus was decided by the original spirits, or et'Ada, those gods we call the Aedra gave sacrificed themselves and died. But the mortals memories gave new life to these gods. Naturally, as all memories and tales are varied across various people, so are the gods. This chart lays out the basic archetypes and the representatives thereof in each Aedric pantheon. Some gods' spheres overlap, so there are some gray areas. Also note the Dunmer aren't included (for they worship no Aedra) as well as the Argonians (we have no knowledge of their worship. Varieties of Faith in the Empire was a quintessential tool in creating this. Here is a Link to the picture. Hopefully it's helpful in your studies.
Lore Reporter #11: The Serpent
By Brian S
Though it may seem mundane to most, and but an idiosyncrasy of the firmament to a few, the Serpent constellation is likely one of the biggest threats to the inhabitants of Nirn.
First, a review. The sky is full of stars, holes which let the magicka, creatia, essence of Aetherius into the mortal plane. Without them, Nirn would be a rather dead place. These stars are grouped into constellations, wherein they can fully channel their power, giving those born under them special abilities and crippling weaknesses.
Some of these constellations are so called “guardians,” led by so called “Dominion Planets.” These constellations are the Warrior, the Thief, and the Mage, typical mythological archetypes. Since planets are infinite, and also are entities, these constellations are especially powerful. But as guardians, one might wonder what they truly guard against.
There is the matter of the serpent. It is an oddball amongst the constellations, having a much less fixed route. But what is more peculiar is its composition. It is said to be compiled of “unstars.” So what then are these unstars? What is not a star? What is not spewing magic? Something that is mundane, normal, sucking magic then.
Thus, the guardians protect the stars from what is not them: the Serpent. What might happen if the stars weren’t there? The Serpent and Oblivion would overtake. Nirn would become a dark place.
Lore Reporter #10- Cosmological Overview
Br Brian S
The universe of the Elder Scrolls world is vast, esoteric, and sometimes can seem impossibly confusing. But the knowledge thereof is fascinating and can be rather rewarding once digested. Herein I shall try and simplify it as much as possible for the beginner or average reader.
Lore Reporter #9- Hermaeus Mora
By Brian S
The Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora is known by many names and monikers: The Gardener of Men, The Woodland Man, and Herma Mora among them. One of the most misunderstood, mysterious, and elusive of princes, his name and speculations thereof are thrown about wildly like a paper in the wind. Let this be a compendium, a central hub of all Hermaeus knowledge.
In appearance the prince is most peculiar, the most bizarre of all the princes in their usual form. In most cases, Hermaeus appears as a massive crab-slug, great claws stemming from the top of his amorphous blob of a body. Pustules of some sort pepper the rest of him all the way down his sickening rolls of skin to his tentacles, which spread out like roots from the bottom of his body. But behind his extreme facade he presents himself with a sultry human voice, eager to draw in a mortal tool.
As all princes, Hermaeus possesses a sphere, a core of existence which drives the prince, their very essence, what they are all about and for. Unlike most other princes, Hermaeus’s is not as concrete or tangible, overlapping many abstract concepts. His is of the scrying of fate, the divination of the past and future and reading thereof. Because of his realm and the things contained therein, he is often dubbed as the ‘Prince of Forbidden Knowledge.’ While such is his dominion within Apocrypha, it is not his sphere, a common misconception.
As abovementioned, his realm is known of as Apocrypha. The meaning of that word is exactly what the realm is, a vast collection of illicit facts and tomes, an infinitely immense library where the farthest flung ideas of the Aurbis are contained, conterminous with the Prince. While to a Tamrielic scholar trapped within his mortal prison, Apocrypha may sound utterly grand, the area itself is relatively bleak. It is described of as dark, damp, devoid of life. The ancient, forbidden tomes are jet black in cover, bearing no title. They sit in endless bookshelves, spanning out in all directions. The only inhabitants in the vapid waste are ghosts, who search fruitlessly through the aisles.
With the exception of Malacath, and presumably Meridia, Hermaeus has had a peculiar entry into existence. He bears a special connection with the god of time and the god of knowledge (whom you may know as Akatosh and Julianos, respectively). The Imperial Census of Daedra Lords states outright that he was born of ideas that were not deemed suitable for use in the Mundus, and that his intertwinement with time, and thus the time god itself, is obvious and cosmic. This makes sense, time being a interest of his. So has the prince even stated, “past, present, and future are as one to me."
As with his connection to the god of knowledge, that bit is much more subtle than that with time, besides his penchant for collecting forbidden knowledge. The Altmeri pantheon bears one Xarxes, associated with knowledge and hermetic orders. You likely know, dear reader, of the Oghma Infinium (which if you don’t, no worry, this we’ll delve into later). Yet you may not know of its origins, which lie with Xarxes himself. So said Hermaeus Mora:
I give you this, the Oghma Infinium. Knowledge given by me to Xarxes is recorded within. Read it, and gain knowledge of yourself. Go now. Learn, and remember.
As all Daedra princes, Hermaeus holds a powerful artifact, a tool with which to entice mortals into committing his Mundic wills and serving him in any other possible way. Suitable, for him, this tool is the Oghma Infinium. This is a powerfully wise book, full of ancient, enticing wisdom. It has traded many hands throughout history. One of these was the Eternal Champion of Jagar Tharn’s time, who took it easily in the wastes of Skyrim without any succor the prince at all. The Hero of Daggerfall too has been said to wield it, as did the Champion of Cyrodiil, both having to have done less than charming taks for Hermaeus.
Another interesting tidbit, is that he is associated with the infamous assassin’s guild of Morrowind, the Morag Tong. Though how this is so is not specifically known (relations with the also devious Mephala being the norm of thinking). As Herma-Mora he has done so, and so is he known by the Nords of Skyrim. Many of their tales tell of escaping the fierce wit of old Herma-Mora, the demon of knowledge. They say he once tried to trick the men into becoming the very elves they fought and loathed!
Daedric Prince of Madness Sheogorath, has said the following about Hermaeus:
There once was a Prince named Hermaeus,
And Hermaeus Mora is a filthy stew
There is also an interesting quote associated with one follower of Hermaeus Mora, and one which seems to echo best with him more than any other prince of the Void of Oblivion, and the realms therein. I leave you with this:
"The ultimate purpose of the Daedra Lords is to instruct and improve the generally deplorable character of mortals."
Lore Reporter #8- On Lorkhan
By Brian S
Lore Reporter #7- The Dark Brotherhood
Perhaps through playing Oblivion, you have come upon one of its most interesting factions, the assassin's guild; The Dark Brotherhood. Perhaps though, you haven't discovered fully the origins of the guild, and how it comes to place. Although the guild seems nasty and ruthless, it is ran in a strict fashion. This is governed by the Night Mother; the voice of Sithis, who discovers clients for the Dark Brotherhood by the latter performing a ritual that is known as the Black Sacrament.
Then, when the information is known by the Night Mother, the Listener; or leading member of the faction obtains this information and then gives it to the four speakers, part of a society known as the Black Hand, which is the hierarchy of the faction. What is truly interesting is how all Dark Brotherhood members worship the idea of Sithis, which in their opinion is chaos, discord, disorder and the void itself. It's almost like this is more a zealot cult than anything else, that actually believes they serve a purpose; no matter how evil or despicable. In fact, killing a dark brother or sister is breaking the five tenets (a set of rules imposed by the brotherhood that you must follow as a member, all punishable by the wrath of sithis). The killing of a dark brother or sister will invoke the wrath of sithis; a ghostly figure that will attack the assassin in his/her sleep. This also means, three strikes and you are out, literally; as three times violating the tenets will force you as dismissed from the guild.
This violent cult exists predominantly in Cyrodiil, but has spread its influence into mainland Morrowind, as well as the provinces bordering the Imperial Province. Recent chaos within the dark brotherhood established a new listener, and butchered nearly every member in the brotherhood, but the guild has been somewhat restored...and Cyrodiilic citizens are still most certainly living in fear.
Sources Used: Imperial Library
Lore Reporter #6- Vivec
Vivec, god of the dunmer is one of the three Tribunal. Vivec came to power after the death of the Nerevar and used the Tools of Kagrenac on the Heart of Lorkhan to gain divine power, therefore going against Nerevar's dieing wish. They did many divine acts, but it was also their undoing as they were battling the evil of the heart, they were also getting weaker. Vivec was the last to stand against Dagoth Ur and help keep the ghostfence running after Soltha Sil withdrew. Vivec lives in the Palace of Vivec, in Vivec City which is the largest city in Vvardenfell. His temple is mostly plain with one main room, and the puzzle canal and shrine of courtesy underneath. We have learned from Oblivion that Vivec has gone missing. There have been different ideas that have come up including being killed by the Nerevarine, being taken by the Daedra, or living in obsucurity.
There was also a role play called the Trials of Vivec, where Bethesda Devs and ex-Devs participated in. Vivec is put on trial, but he was able to trick the people and also banish Azura. Full article here.
There is much we don't know about Vivec, and only time will tell to what really happened.